Maria – The ‘Home’ in a Country Song

Tichi, Cecelia. High Lonesome – The American Culture of Country Music. UNC Press Books, 1994. 21-25 Google Book Search. Web. 9 June 2016.

Unlike any other western music genre, Tichi further argues in her book, that “Country requires a special kind of listening and particular kind of writing.” Surely, these “special and particular” aspects are what give Country music its grace and charm. Compared to other genres like pop, rock, R&B, etc, Country has got its own style which is simple yet elegant. The themes and patterns are totally different from the other genres. Country songs don’t simply convey the greatness of the American culture; it gives life to the whole dream itself. That is why the author further presses on; “It is not enough to mix verbatim song lyrics with remarks on American culture.”

It is evident, as we flip through the history and evolution of Country genre, that, “songs of ‘Home’ make up a premier category of country music.” Says Tichi. The lyrics mostly convey nostalgia and hope; a longing to go back to where one belongs, a longing to be with family, to be home. As the concept of ‘home’ itself might seem to be a little out-of-date, the author finds that “phrases and underlying assumptions can seem terribly old-fashioned.” She also raises questions like: “What do home songs in country music offer beyond nostalgia? Aren’t they sentimental yearnings for a simplistic America that, if it ever really existed, has vanished to a metropolitan and suburban age? Aren’t the songs themselves rigidly formulaic in presuming a nuclear family structure and, in their message, defiant of the realities of social change? Aren’t they idealistically (or blindly) unwilling to acknowledge the actual problems of home life?” These questions make us wonder if the whole concept of ‘home’ in Country songs is too good to be real, a dream which had already been lost.

Speaking about ‘home’, which is geographically located in the American South, the author further mentions that, “there is a paradox at work in country music home songs as they relate to the national culture.” She goes on, “the paradox shows the complex role of the home song both in country music and broad-based American cultural traditions.” She argues that the concept of ‘home’ in country songs doesn’t only relate to those who live down south but, in one way or another, the ‘home’ is a universal concept which is being created in the whole American consciousness. She emphasizes on this point by saying, “home songs are set geographically in the South, but they are only in the narrowest sense southern songs. The cultural records of the nation show that their ideas of home are virtually identical with the images in the visual arts and print over some two centuries of cultural process throughout the United States.”

Tichi also tries to throw light into the actual theme of ‘home’ which is well off and “maintains its ideal image only when problems of race and class do not enter in and disrupt the carefully managed and devised ideal.” She further states the universality of the term ‘home’ by saying that “home is a national preoccupation-perhaps obsession running through two centuries of national experience. The South, in this sense, represents the nation.”

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